Standing at the corner of hope and regret

Today’s photo: Alice’s favorite buildings are past their prime.

Alice's favorite buildings are past their prime.

Note: I chose this photo as my photo-of-the-day because I was so pleased to have manipulated the depth of field enough so that Alice was in focus in the foreground but a good bit of the background was also in focus. I’ve struggled with that, and this shot is the best I’ve done so far. Camera info: Canon 5d Mk iii, 50mm f/1.4 lens, ISO 2500, Shutter 1/125, Aperture f/22, no flash.

Today’s photo extras.

Alice stands on the street corner hoping no one thinks she looks like a prostitute.

Alice among the ruins

Alice among the ruins

Alice on the infamous rail bound for nowhere.

Today’s lesson: Try not to eat your own seed corn.

If you plant a crop and you want to be able to keep planting from year to year so that you have food to eat indefinitely and not just for right now, you have to save some seed. If you eat your seed, you’ve eaten up your future.

This is the kind of thing that happens all the time in any sort of creative endeavor. You get all excited, you work very hard, and you burn yourself out. Or, you get all excited about your work, and you flood people with samples of it so that you burn your potential audience out, and they all lose interest before you’ve really gotten started.

Try not to do that. You need to save some seed for the next planting.

Today, for example, I have diluted the amount of feedback I will get on any one photograph by posting multiple shots on the same day. On Facebook and Flickr, where I have posted these shots, some people will look at one, and some will look at another, but very few people will look at all of them. I shouldn’t ask anyone to choose my best shot of the day for me. I should make the call myself, and share only one at a time with my friends. That’s a rule I try to keep in mind, but it’s also a rule I often break.

Some days I don’t want to pick just one shot, and that’s okay as long I know that I’m nibbling at the seed corn if my goal in sharing them is to get as many people as possible to look at one of my photographs. It’s also okay as long I understand that I’m going to gobble that seed corn up in a hurry if I don’t pace myself with my own projects. Right now photographing Alice is my project. I’m enthused about this project. Alice makes me laugh. Alice makes other people laugh, and that makes me happy. It would be so easy to put more time than I have into photographing Alice. Once that happened, though, I would start to feel overwhelmed by my life and my job and all of the other things going on around me. I would start second guessing my Alice project. I would start second guessing my own skills and my own purpose in doing any project at all. I would burn out and abandon poor Alice before her time. I’d have nothing left in me to kick start the project all over again when I recovered from my plummeting self-confidence. I’d be staring at an empty field at the start of planting season with no seed corn to be found.

Try not to do that to yourself. It’s the best advice I have for you today.